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New cybersafety resource OWLS takes flight

17 Feb 2014

Primary and intermediate students are being taught how to be ‘wise owls’ when using the internet.

OWLS is a new resource launched this week to help teachers educate their students about internet privacy issues.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner and NetSafe developed the resource, in partnership with the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

The launch at Tawa School in Wellington, by Nikki Kaye, Associate Minister of Education and Minister of Youth Affairs, was timed to coincide with Safer Internet Day that this year had the theme of ‘Let’s create a better internet together”.

The Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says that the internet and mobile technology are exposing children to a range of risks that previous generations have not encountered.

“Teaching children how to protect their privacy online increasingly involves schools because children are experimenting in digital media from very young ages," Shroff says.

"It is important that teachers and parents understand this trend and are able to pass on the necessary knowledge and skills for children to stay safe online.”

OWLS consists of 24 modules that cover four themes: Own your information – take control, Wait before you upload, Lock your information, Safety first. The resource provides a complete cyber-education programme that teachers can work through, or alternatively they can select a module that fits in with their existing classroom programme.

The aim of the OWLS is to help students manage their personal information and to also provide a way to involve both families and the wider community in conversations around internet safety.

“Learning how to behave wisely online is something we must share and discuss with young people in our classrooms and homes," Shroff adds.

"That’s why resources like the OWLS project are so important. They help equip children for a life that is no longer online or offline but both."